Arizona Cardinals at Tennessee Titans
The Titans made the playoffs last season behind a monster campaign from star RB Derrick Henry and they open the season facing the Cardinals, who are in year 3 of the Kyler Murry/ Kliff Kingsbury pairing in the desert.
The Titans are a 3-point home pick in this con-conference matchup with the total at 52. The public has slightly backed the hometown Titans in this game, as they opened as a 2.5-point favorite and as of September 6 are a 3-point favorite.
Last season the Cardinals were 8-8 and 7-9 ATS and the Titans were 11-6 and 7-10 ATS.
Welcome JJ Watt
While the Cardinals lost veterans WR Larry Fitzgerald and CB Patrick Patterson and leading rusher RB Kenyon Drake they brought in three-time Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt and A.J. Green, who had a down season last season.
The team, which ranked in the middle of the pack in both points scored and points allowed, is hoping these stars can bounce back and fore Murray to continue his growth as the starting QB.
Last season the Titans were the fourth highest scoring team led by star RB Derrick Henry, who became only the eighth player ever to rush for over 2,000 yards. The team only ranked 24th in points allowed but made some solid moves in the off-season to improve the defense.
While the Cardinals have covered the spread in their last four games facing the Titans these teams have not faced each other since the 2017 season.
Murray Must Ascend
Murry has a pretty solid sophomore campaign last season passing for 3,971 yards with 26 TD and 12 INT and also rushed for 819 yards. DeAndre Hopkins was the league’s second leading receiver last season and Christian Kirk had 621 receiving yards. Green had over 1,000 receiving yards in six of his first seven seasons in the league but only had 523 receiving yards last season despite playing in 16 games.
With Drake gone Chase Edmonds (448 rushing yards) and newcomer James Conner, who rushed for 721 yards last season with Pittsburgh, will man the backfield.
The Titans really bolstered their pass rush in the off-season signing Bud Dupree, who had 19.5 sacks in the last two seasons with the Steelers, and also adding Denico Autry, who had 20 sacks in the last three seasons with the Colts. The team used their first-round pick to select CB Caleb Farley, who will play alongside former All Pro Kevin Byard.
Henry is a Beast
Derrick Henry rushed for 2,000 yards last season and has led the NFL in the last two season not only in rushing yards but rushing TD’s as well. His workload has been huge in the last two season and Darrynton Evans, Brian Hill, Jeremy McNichols have to take some pressure off him.
Ryan Tannehill had another solid season under center passing for 3,819 yards with 33 TD and only seven INT. while A.j. Brown is back and led the leam with 1,075 receiving yards last season second leading WR Corey Davis and TE Jonnu Smith are gone.
However, Tennessee made a big move in the off-season trading for star WR Julio Jones, who had six straight seasons with at least 1,300 rushing yards before struggling with injuries last season and only playing nine games.
The Cardinals’ defense is hoping J.J. Watt and Chandler Jones, who missed seven games last season due to injury, and wreak havok in the backfield and contain Henry, which is a tall task. The secondary did lose veteran Patterson but still has All Pro S Budda Baker and the team signed CB Malcolm Butler.
The Cardinals were only 2-7 ATS in their last nine games last season.
The Cardinals have a lot of talent but are also banking on a few new guys to step up. The Titans were a playoff team last season and they made some great moves in the off-season to improve a defense that struggled last season.
In this opener look for Henry to have a big game and for the Titans’ defense to make some plays. Murray and company will keep it pretty close but at home Tennessee is the pick to win and cover.
PICK: Titans -3